Thursday, November 20, 2014

Marketing to Millennials 101

Photo source: Inc.com

"Wise companies can use the new consumer to their advantage [while] the not so wise will get left behind."


The Millennial Generation is a hard nut to crack. It encompasses people born from the '80s to the 2000s and has proven to be the most radically different generation since the industrial revolution. With the introduction of the Internet and all of the social platforms that go along with it, this generation has become one of the smartest, most opinionated, and globally astute group of consumers in recent memory. Companies looking to cash in on the Millennial dollar have had to change the way they do business.

For the first time companies have had to actually had to ask themselves not just what demographic they want to market to but what is that demographic's core values set or governing set of principles. Some companies like American Eagle Outfitters have embraced the new marketing with campaigns like their Aerie Lingerie line and the newly conceived Distressed Denim Campaign. Both of these campaigns have homed in on one of the Millennial Generations core values, individualism.

In addition, Burger King, which has a strong focus on the Millennial Generation with its acquisition of Tim Hortons, has a CEO who is in his early 30s and is already regarded as a thought leader in modern business. What better way to understand the younger generation than having a chief executive officer who's a member of it!

Others have not taken the time to really understand the new marketing and have fallen out of favor with a large base of consumers such as national cable providers and Microsoft.


UNDERSTANDING THE MILLENNIAL CONSUMER

Changes in technology and global awareness have helped to develop a new consumer. These consumers are more aware of their product options and spend more time researching a product or service before they buy. Where and how you advertise your product has to change as well.

The Millennial Generation, for the most part, believes in these core principles, among others:

  • They have the right to be heard
... 

Read the rest of the original article here

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Social Media and Content Marketing Strategy Consultant
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symblemeservicesonline@gmail.com

Monday, November 10, 2014

The Minimalist Guide to Twitter: How to Handle It in 15 Minutes a Day

Photo source: Boost Blog Traffic
The biggest downside to social media?

The temptation to get sucked in.

Yep, it's WAAAAAAY too easy to sit down and say, "Okay, I'm gonna block out the next 30 minutes or so and do my social media engagement..."

And then three hours later, you're still chasing threads on Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest, Google Plus...

We all know what a time suck social media can be. But we still have to do it.

Fortunately for us all, Jimmy Daly over at Boost Blog Traffic has put together a bunch of really great tips for paring down our social media activities to the ones that will give us the most bang for the buck.

Oh, and I totally agree with them: if you don't already have Hootsuite, go get it. Now. And use the autoscheduler. It's the bomb. I'll have to write a post on it sometime soon.

In the meantime, enjoy:

The Minimalist Guide to Twitter: How to Handle It in 15 Minutes a Day

Has this ever happened to you?
You venture over to Twitter to share your latest blog post.
You type your message, click Tweet and you’re just about to leave when…
Something in your timeline catches your eye.
It’ll only take a few seconds to check it out, right?
Then you see something else. Then something else.
And before you know it, an hour has passed and you’re left wondering where the hell your time went.
It’s a common problem. Twitter’s a powerful tool for bloggers, but it’s also a dangerous distraction.
Scrolling endlessly through your feed can feel productive – particularly when you tell yourself it’s research – but deep down you know it’s the opposite. Even the “proven” social strategies seem to deliver nothing.
So, is it possible to get the benefits of Twitter without being sidetracked by the distractions or wasting time on ineffective tactics?
Fortunately, it is.
In fact, it’s possible in just 15 minutes a day. Here’s how…

The Secret to Getting Better Results in Less Time on Twitter



By Jimmy Daly

Twitter can be a valuable tool for bloggers, but it can also be a major time suck. Being successful on Twitter with minimal effort means being ruthless with your time.

Typically, bloggers face two main obstacles to a minimalist approach.

Firstly, the Twitter platform itself is loaded with distractions. The feed constantly updates, leaving you anxious to stick around just to see what the next tweet says. Twitter Ads and “helpful” suggestions of new people to follow threaten to send you down a new rabbit hole every few minutes. And frankly, it’s overwhelming.

Secondly, the web is swimming with advice about getting better results from Twitter and so you can easily struggle to cut through the noise. A Google search for “Twitter marketing” returns 678 million results. Good luck sorting through all that! The result is that you feel constant pressure to try the latest strategy without knowing whether it will work.

Despite these distractions, a couple of simple rules will help you make the most of your Twitter time without becoming a Twitter addict.

Read the rest of the article here: The Minimalist Guide to Twitter.


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symblemeservicesonline@gmail.com


Monday, November 3, 2014

Small Business Owners: 5 Reasons Why You May Not Be Online...and What You Can Do About It

photo credit: EyeTunes via photopin cc
Are you, like 50% of your small business brethren, still not online?

Are you relying on pricey, old-fashioned marketing techniques such as flyers, phone book yellow page ads, and newspaper, radio, and TV ads?

Are you noticing less bang for your buck from these marketing techniques? 

Are you watching your business drain off to your competition with the fancy websites and aggressive social media campaigns?

The Internet has been around for 25 years now. And yet, even though 9 out of 10 potential customers research a business online before making contact, small businesses still rely heavily on the aforementioned old-fashioned techniques to market themselves. 

Unfortunately, these marketing techniques are quickly becoming dinosaurs. 

They don't reach visitors or new residents who don't have access to phone books or have local addresses in which to receive flyers. 

And they don't reach millennials -- those 18-34-year-olds whose noses are eternally buried in their electronic gadgets

Visitors, new residents, and millennials all have Google. 

So do most established, mature locals. 

And those locals who don't have Google? 

They know someone who does.

So let's take a look at some of the things that might be holding you back from making the leap into the great online world, and see if we can make that cliff look a little bit less scary. 

1. I Don't Want to Change

My grandmother used to joke that she and Granddad hadn't moved in 50 years, but their address had changed 10 times. 

This is true of many things. You hold still, and life changes around you. 

You probably set up a system of advertising 20 or 30 years ago that worked brilliantly. Once that was all set, you put it on "maintenance mode", and basically forgot about it. 

But then some smartapple kid had to go and invent the Internet, and that just wrecked everything.

Now you have to go back, dredge up something that you thought you'd never have to deal with again, and put a bunch of effort into updating it.

Ugh.

Well, if you're close to retiring and you can ride out your final few years of business ownership without worrying too much about your bottom line taking a bit of a hit, it's probably okay to ride it out. Steady as she goes.

If, on the other hand, your profits have gone south because your competition is more on the ball than you are...

I hate to tell you this, but the Internet is probably not going away any time soon.

Can you really afford not to get up-to-date?

2. I Don't Have Time to Do It Myself

Maybe you understand the importance of getting on the Internet, but you're running a business, keeping the books, supervising employees, meeting with people, and changing light bulbs. 

Every spare moment of your time is spoken for. 

Well, let  me ask you this: 

Do you think you could get up an hour or two earlier in the morning for a couple of weeks?

If so, invest $5 in this book, and it'll take you through you everything you need to do, in a couple of hours a day or less. 

Once you're set up, maintaining everything will take you maybe 15-30 minutes a day. And it's actually kind of fun once you get the hang of it. It's sort of like meeting all of your customers in a bar all at once and catching up on town gossip with them.

3. It Costs Too Much

There was a time that building a website was a big deal. You had to know how to code a computer. And it was pricey, too.

Yeah, you could still spend a bundle having a designer fix you up with a fancy website. But nowadays, thanks to online utilities such as Wix, Blogger, and Wordpress, you can set up a website yourself for free.

You can also get on Facebook, Twitter, Google Plus, Linked In, Pinterest, and a whole bunch of other social media sites for free. And you can get listed in online business listings...

All for free.

Once again, this book, will show you how, for five bucks.

That's pretty cheap.

4. I Don't Want More Business

You're a rare bird, but you might be maxed out. 

You're out of space, you have more customers than you know what to do with, and the last thing you want is a big rush of new customers coming in. 

Okay, I can totally dig that. 

Here's a couple of things to think about, though: 

First, you're probably not going to get a huge rush of new customers overnight. This is kind of like expecting a big rush of customers when you hand out a business card. 

Could it happen? Sure. But it's not really all that likely. 

Second, wouldn't it be nice if you could send people to a website for answers to your most common questions? I'll bet that would save you a ton of time.

Finally, every time a customer asked, "Do you have a website?"

You could answer, "Yes. Here it is."

Wouldn't that feel nice?

5. I'm a Techno-Tard

There's really no reason to have a big, fancy website with a bunch of bells and whistles. You just need something that can be found on Google when your customers hunt for you.

Think of your website as an entry in the yellow pages.

It's basically a repository of your contact information, your products or services, a little something about you, and some FAQs (Frequently Asked Questions).

Oh yeah, and some pictures.

That's all you really need.

Sure, social media, blogging, and online business listings are going to help you get found, but the stuff above is all you need.

Those utilities I mentioned before? You know, Blogger, Wix, and all them?

They're really, super easy to use. If you can check email, you can set up a website.

The really nice thing is, if you do everything yourself, you don't have to worry about your web designer croaking and leaving you stranded with a big online mystery and no clue how to update it.

Get this book. Seriously. $5. Easy.


References:

The Utter Moron's Guide to Getting Online: http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00OF40J8K
http://www.inc.com/associated-press/small-businesses-have-no-website.html
http://www.webworldindex.com/articles2/Why-Small-Business-Dont-Have-A-Website.html
http://symblemeservicesonline.blogspot.com/2014/08/word-of-mouth-marketing-shocking-truth.html
http://symblemeservicesonline.blogspot.com/2014/07/your-customers-are-waiting-for-you-on.html

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Symblème Services Online

Catharine Symblème, Small Business Evangelist

Social Media | Blogging | Content Creation | Local SEO
Bringing 21st Century Word-of-Mouth Marketing to Small Businesses

315 State Avenue
Alamosa, CO 81101
719-937-1815
symblemeservicesonline@gmail.com
symblemeservicesonline.blogspot.com

Monday, October 27, 2014

Using Google Plus Circles to Build Your Small Business

Image courtesy of PlusYourBusiness.com
So, What the Heck are Google Plus Circles, and What Do They Do?

Google Plus Circles are kind of like Twitter follows. If you Circle someone, you can see their posts, and if they Circle you, they can see your posts.

Some people think that they have to “Circle back” anyone who Circles them. But more isn’t necessarily better. First, Google limits you to Circling only 5000 people, and if 1,000,000 people Circle you, then what are you going to do? Second, more people you Circle, the less you can give them individual warm fuzzies.

So, I know this is a tough one for you extroverts, but you’re really better off only Circling the people who are actually fun and engage with you.

Google Plus Circles are ALSO how you organize the people that you follow into groups, so that your husband and boss don’t see the off-colored jokes you’re sharing with your College circle, and you aren’t boring your Bar Fly Circle friends with the promotional material you send to your customers.

One of the cool things about Circles is that if you’re perusing your stream and happen to catch a suspicious post from one of your kids, you could jump into that Circle, see what they and their friends are up to, and thwart their plans before they burn down the block.

Another cool thing about Circles is that if you add someone to a Circle, they get a notification that you Circled them, but they don’t see the name of the Circle you put them in. This means that you could set up a Circle titled “Annoying People Who Don’t Deserve the Time of Day”, dump in your brother-in-law, and in the real world, he would still think you’re a totally nice guy.

Pretty nice system, if you ask me.

Five Essential Business Circles That You Should Have


On a slightly more serious note, Google Plus sets up several Circles by default, but you can add, delete, or edit any of your Circles according to your needs. If you’re using Google Plus for business, Stephan Hovnanian suggests setting up the following Circles in Google Plus:

1. Brand advocates

Your brand advocates are your evangelists. They’re happy customers, fans, and other people who think the world of you, and they deserve some social love. Read their posts, give ‘em a +1 or a comment, or share their posts, and they’ll feel like kings and queens. Even better, the people in their Circles will see your activity, and they might want to check out your company or even hire you.

2. Team members

Your team members are often your best brand advocates, and they deserve the same kind of social love. Also, interacting with them acts as a gentle reminder that yes, Big Sister is watching, so please don’t advertise any sales that don’t exist or answer questions that you’re not sure about.

3. Industry or keyword influencers & bloggers

Influencers are the big kids on the block – the ones on whose coattails you’d love to catch a ride. You can learn a lot by watching what they do, and of course, building relationships with them (as long as you’re not acting like an annoying younger sibling) might just result in one of your posts getting shared with their (much bigger) network, or even get you written up in their blog. They might even let you drive their car.

4. Networking

Networking is where good old-fashioned, business-to-business “scratch my back and I’ll scratch yours” action happens. As Stephan Hovnanian puts it, “For example, if you are an IT recruiter, you could have a circle of IT bloggers that you notify when you have new positions you need to fill. They can, in turn, help get the word out. And of course, be sure to reciprocate whenever possible.”

5. Industry news

Out here on the ragged edge, things change quickly, and keeping up with the latest and greatest should be part of your daily task on Google Plus. Not only does it make you look cool, smart, and savvy, but it’s great stuff to share with your followers, to keep them up-to-date.

Tip: if you re-post a link, write an insightful or provocative introduction in your own words, so that the news has your brand identity associated with it.


So, how do you find people to Circle?



a. You can Circle people on the Suggested Users List (not my personal favorite -- ever had a computer pick your friends? That said, Google Plus DOES have good taste here and there.)

b. If you're Circled some people, you can prowl their profiles and Circle interesting-looking people in their network.

c. You can search for individual people or perform other searches (such as “social media”) and Circle the people who show up.

d. You can click on interesting Hashtags to see who else uses them.

e. You can peruse the comments on posts and Circle the people who write good ones, or Circle people who respond to your comments (one of my favorite techniques).

f. You can do the same thing with the comments in Hangouts on Air (another of my favorite techniques).

g. You can join Communities and meet people with similar interests (my absolute favorite technique).


Keep in mind that, if you’re doing this for your business, you should be targeting people who might be interested in your products or services.

Conclusion: 


Who knew that a simple people-organizing system could be so powerful? Enjoy exploring Google Plus Circles!

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Catharine Symblème, Small Business Evangelist
315 State Avenue
Alamosa, CO 81101
719-937-1815
symblemeservicesonline@gmail.com
symblemeservicesonline.blogspot.com

Social Media | Blogging | Content Creation | Local SEO
Bringing 21st Century Word-of-Mouth Marketing to Small Businesses

Monday, October 20, 2014

Why Google+ Is Better Than Facebook For Your Small Business

Photo courtesy of clasesdeperiodismo(CC ShareALike)
I'll be the first one to admit it: I'm a recovering Facebook addict.

Back in 2009 when I joined, Facebook was a great place to be. I got to reconnect with friends from high school and college and see how much gray hair and how many kids they had. I got to laugh at the funny pictures and have great conversations and play silly games with everyone.

And then the first election season happened.

And then I survived a super bowl.

And then I noticed more and more re-postings of awful pictures of abused dogs and children slaughtered by wars and people torturing babies with tattoos and rantings about how angry everybody was with Congress, because the unhappy posts were the ones that got the most attention.

And then Facebook started filtering its content according to whose posts were the most popular. Which meant, basically, those posts with the most Likes. Which in turn meant posts from the people with the most Friends, not the people with the most interesting content.

As a result, Facebook has become almost completely uninteresting to me, other than as a venue for messaging people one-on-one and getting seen on Google searches.

My personal feelings aside, Facebook is about people-drama. It's where you find pictures of weddings and graduations and sunsets and babies.

But Facebook is practically useless for business promotion unless you have an advertising budget. Up to 95% of all posts from a business page are hidden from your friends' news feeds without being "boosted".

From a business standpoint, IMHO, Facebook is a waste of time. The only reason that I use Facebook at all is because the locals with whom I do business haven't seen the G+ light yet.

Google Plus, on the other hand, is where I go to meet new people, to get exposed to fresh ideas and leading-edge thinking, and to network eyeball-to-eyeball via Hangouts with other business owners from all over the world. It's like being in a big city vs. being in a small town.

And it's easier to use.

And it gives you great Google juice for your page ranking.

And Google Plus has Hangouts On Air.

Hangouts On Air are the bees knees. They're like live streaming TV shows married to live chat. They're interactive. And it's all backed up to YouTube automatically so you can go catch the replay any time. Without commercials.

And the best part is, Hangouts are free.

Yes, free.

So, I'm a permanent Google Plus convert.

But don't just take my word for it. Check out this article:

%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%

By Sarah Burke

Every time that I’ve commented to friends and colleagues that I think Google+ is better than Facebook for small businesses, I’m met with incredulous glances.


“Better than Facebook??? Sarah, you cray cray.”


But I stand by it.


I think Google+ is better than Facebook for small businesses.Actually, I think it’s even going to be bigger than Facebook in a year or so.


And honestly? I’m surprised that it’s taking this long to catch on.


Let me tell you why.


Google+ was launched in June of 2011, as a “social layer” that enhances many of Google’s existing features, such as YouTube comments and Gmail. It also acts as a identity service, by interacting with Google’s other services so that content that users share and comment on are attached to the same account.


Many have considered Google+ as a “ghost town” of social media, but Google+ has been quick to respond to these rumours with their statistics and numbers.


Google has 540 million MAU who use at least one of Google+’s services, and out of that number, 300 million users are active “in the stream” (which basically means using Google+ as a social media platform by actually going to the content stream).


As of September 2014 Google+ is the 5th most popular social media platform on the internet. Ahead of it ranks Facebook at #1, Twitter at #2, LinkedIn at #3 and Pinterest at #4.



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Symblème Services Online

Catharine Symblème, Small Business Evangelist
315 State Avenue
Alamosa, CO 81101
719-937-1815
symblemeservicesonline@gmail.com
symblemeservicesonline.blogspot.com

Social Media | Blogging | Content Creation | Local SEO
Bringing 21st Century Word-of-Mouth Marketing to Small Businesses

Monday, October 13, 2014

The Utter Moron's Guide to Getting Online is Live on Kindle!!

I'm excited to announce that my new eBook, The Utter Moron's Guide to Getting Online: Build and Maintain an Online Business Presence in 2 Hours a Day or Less is officially LIVE on Kindle!

Here's a preview: 

"Unless you’ve been living on a desert island – in which case your clients are giant tortoises and are unable to use the Internet due to their lack of fingers – I’ll bet that you’ve heard “do you have a website?” or “are you on Facebook?”
You might have been thinking to yourself, “one of these days, I’ve gotta get online.”
You may have even taken a stab at “getting online” in the past. Maybe you hired someone for a bazillion bucks to build you a professional-looking website with all the bells and whistles, or asked your neighbor’s teenager to do it for you in return for a lifetime supply of Mountain Dew (which, no doubt, resulted in something that looked like the Rocky Horror Picture Show on acid.)
Now, let me guess: you glanced at this website, scratched your head, pushed a few buttons, clicked on a few links, said to yourself, “well, that’s nice” and carried on with your life. Now, 10 years later, the website is still telling the public about your $5.99 Wednesday night club specials in Gunnison when you closed that restaurant six years ago, moved to Fort Collins, and started a bicycle shop.
You see, I’ll bet you have a secret.

I’ll bet that, deep down, you don’t have a clue as to what all of this “online” and “social media” stuff is all about, much less how on God’s green earth to do it.

Well, it’s okay. Your secret’s safe with me.

Tell you what.
If you can carve two hours a day out of your schedule for two weeks – 14 days – and you’re fairly comfortable using a computer – like, you can turn it on, point and click with a mouse, hunt for things in Google, type stuff in a word processor, and check your email – I’ll show you:
  • How to set up and configure a blog that doubles nicely as a business website.
  • How to set up and configure Facebook, Twitter, and Google Plus business accounts.
  • How to set up and use Twitterfeed to automatically post updates from your website on your Facebook, Twitter, and Google Plus feeds.
  • How to set up and use a service called Hootsuite that will take a lot of the repetition out of your day-to-day maintenance.
  • How to set up some online business listings (sort of like those yellow page ads in your phone book – except they’re free)
And in the process, I’ll teach you how to set everything up so that Google – and your customers – have the best chance humanly possible to find you.
By the time the 14 days are up, you’ll not look and sound totally cool, hip, and savvy with all the neato Internet jargon you’ve picked up, but you’ll have a complete, bonafide, basic business presence on the Internet, AND you will have begun to establish the habit of getting online and maintaining everything on a daily basis.
Think you can do that?
All right, then. C’mon, kid, lemme show you the ropes…"

Buy it from Amazon right here for $4.99: The Utter Moron's Guide to Getting Online


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Symblème Services Online

Catharine Symblème, Small Business Evangelist
315 State Avenue
Alamosa, CO 81101
719-937-1815

Social Media | Blogging | Content Creation | Local SEO

Bringing 21st Century Word-of-Mouth Marketing to Small Businesses

Monday, October 6, 2014

Why Small Businesses Are Losing On Social Media


photo credit: pennstatenews via photopin cc
By Meghan Casserly

Social media use is trending upward according to the survey of more than 1,235 small business owners, no surprise given the attention paid to the various social platforms by big businesses and media outlets. Nearly 50% have increased time spent on social media this year and nearly 55% say they’re using platforms like Twitter and Facebook as a primary tool for either acquiring new customers of generating sales leads.

It all sounds promising until this head-scratching result: despite their dedication and belief that social media is the Hail Mary of small business owners everywhere, more than 60% of small business owners say they haven’t seen any return on investment from their engagement online. None.

Social guru Ted Rubin isn’t surprised one bit—and says it’s because the small business community’s expectations of social media platforms, how they’re using them and the reality of the technology are simply way out of whack.


First up, if an expert or strategist tries to sell you on the notion that setting up a Facebook page or Twitter handle (or even a LinkedIn company page) will open the floodgates to an Internet’s worth of sales leads, they’re selling you some bad medicine. “It’s not going to cut it,” Rubin says. “Social actually can be a powerful lead generator,” Rubin says, but not in the way SBOs think. Jumping online to check in on Facebook once a day or posting current sales deals isn’t going to bring the business in. It just isn’t.

Read the full article on Forbes.


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Symblème Services Online
Catharine Symblème, Small Business Evangelist
315 State Avenue
Alamosa, CO 81101
719-937-1815

Social Media | Blogging | Content Creation | Local SEO
Bringing 21st Century Word-of-Mouth Marketing to Small Businesses